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Observations placeholder

Azam, Dr Etienne Eugène - Hypnotism, Double Consciousness and alterations of personality – The side effects of hypnotism - catalepsy



Type of Spiritual Experience



catalepsy - a medical condition characterized by a trance or seizure with a loss of sensation and consciousness accompanied by rigidity of the body.

A description of the experience

HYPNOTISM, DOUBLE CONSCIOUSNESS and alterations of personality by Etienne Eugène Azam

I will say a few words about the phenomenon of catalepsy; it is the most constant, it can exist with both anaesthesia and hyperesthesia; one experiences a unique emotion when one sees a cataleptic in hyperesthesia making helpless efforts to remove his arms from the slightest contact, his ear from the noise that makes him dull.

It is the first to occur, and it can show itself even before the anesthesia. The curious fact observed by Mr. Verneuil on himself, shows how much muscle contractility is under the control of the state of the eyes even before hypnotism is established. It may be accompanied by partial contracture: I have observed it twice; Mr. Verneuil once, at the doctor mentioned above.

This cataleptic state generally affects all the muscles of the body, and it is possible to give the subjects the strangest poses, without them experiencing any fatigue for fifteen to twenty minutes, sometimes longer.

Could this be, as Braid says, the secret of Greek statuary, who knew how to make excellent models pose in a perfect way? This is possible.

There is no doubt that the poses of the faquirs do not have this origin. Bernier tells us that they arrived at this kind of ecstasy by looking at the tip of their noses for a long time; the same goes for the ecstasies of the monks of Mount Athos, called omphalo-psychians, because they obstinately looked at their navel.

Let us remember the ecstasies of Saint Theresa, the convulsions of Saint Medard, the outcasts of the Cévennes ([1]), etc.

Mr. Pouzin told me at the Medical-Psychological Society about a young hysterical woman he found several times in catalepsy in front of her mirror, in the most bizarre poses; he explains it today.

Patients can hear the voice, and the cataleptic state of the laryngeal muscles, counteract phonation; rubbing on the anterior part of the neck stops this state, and the speech reappears.

This remarkable property of rubbing or cold air flow to stop general or local catalepsy is surprisingly fast; M. T. Puel discovered it more than thirty years ago, long after Braid, but it was unlikely that he would have been aware of the English doctor's work. In a very remarkable work, crowned by the Academy ([2]), he recounts at length the observation of a spontaneous cataleptic: by chance he discovered that by a slight rubbing, he made the catalepsy of the hands, then the muscles of the limbs and the trunk stop; finally one day he made the seizure stop by rubbing an eyelid, and woke the sick girl. This means was used to heal her.

In the spontaneous cataleptics that motivated my research, I observed the same phenomenon and practiced the same techniques successfully; but catalepsy was only one of the complications of her illness.



[1] Calmeil, Madness considered from a pathological, historical and judicial point of view. Paris, 1845.
[2] Puel, On Catalepsy (Proceedings of the Academy of Medicine, 1856. Volume XX, page 409).

The source of the experience

Azam, Dr Eugene

Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items

Activities and commonsteps